Ambassador Rice Outlines New Sanctions Against North Korea

By Gorman Gorman

Jun 12, 2009 5:36pm

Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller report:

Wearing a suitably stern expression, Dr. Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, said that she is "pleased" that the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution to impose a regime of "tough, new meaningful" sanctions on North Korea earlier today in response to its May 25 test of a nuclear bomb.

"This is a very robust, tough regime, with teeth that will bite in North Korea," Rice told reporters. "The resolution begins by condemning North Korea's actions in the strongest possible terms and demanding that North Korea halt all nuclear activity, halt all missile activity, and return unconditionally to the six-party process and the negotiating table."

In addition to an embargo on all arms exports from North Korea and further regulation against trade with the rogue state, the resolution requires that all United Nations member states inspect cargo that is suspected of being contraband on its way to North Korea, calling upon all member states to inspect, outside of their territorial waters, any vessel that they believe with reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband. 

Notably, the resolution does not empower United Nations members to steps to take military action to force vessels to the port.

"Obviously, as is the case in any instance, there were countries that gave something and got something," Rice said when asked about this omission. "We feel we got a lot, and we're pleased with this outcome."                                            

Rice said that the unanimous passage sends a "very strong message to North Korea" that the government needs to change course in their "provocative and threatening behavior."

A US official told ABC News' Luis Martinez Thursday that the Obama administration "can't rule out the possibility that North Korea will detonate another nuclear device. There are signs that they may be considering this, but it's unclear if ultimately they will go through with a test. All options appear to be on the North Korean regime's table."

Rice today said that the US wouldn't be surprised if North Korea comes back with further provocations based on the immediate implantation of these sanctions.

"Based on past experience and the pattern that North Korea has of reckless and dangerous actions, it would not be a surprise if North Korea reacted to this very tough sanctions regime in a fashion that would be further provocation and further destabilizing," she said.

Rice says if that happens the US will "implement to the fullest extent" the sanctions agreed upon today.

"We're not going to get into a tit-for-tat reaction to every North Korean provocative act," Rice said. "They know what they need to do to uphold their international obligations.  We're intent upon ensuring that this very tough regime is fully implemented."                

Rice was asked, as this was being negotiated, how concerned US policymakers were about whether or not North Korea would further retaliate against the two American journalists — Laura Ling, 32 and Euna Lee, 36 – captured in North Korea and this week sentenced to 12 years in a forced labor camp.

"We view the situation of the two American journalists as being separate and apart from the actions that we are discussing and that we took today in New York," Rice said. "Obviously, theirs is a humanitarian matter, and one that we think ought to be addressed in that context by North Korea.  We've been very clear that we seek their immediate and unconditional release, as a humanitarian act."

She said it would be "unwise" for the US to refrain from punishing North Korea for its "strong action" in its nuclear test because it feared another "strong action" against Ling and Lee.

The new sanctions:

Impose a complete embargo on the export of arms by North Korea to the rest of the world, and broaden the scope of items that are banned as imports to North Korea. States that do sell to North Korea have to notify the United Nations Sanctions Committee in advance.         

Create new financial sanctions to prevent North Korea from engaging in transactions or activities that could fund its WMD or proliferation activities.  The regime calls for states to freeze any transactions and any assets related to them and calls upon all United Nations member states, as well as international financial institutions, to stop providing any new concessional loans, grants, export credits, trade credits to North Korea — with the exception of humanitarian purposes.

Establish an "innovative and expansive new regime" for inspecting cargo that is suspected of being contraband, calling upon all member states to inspect, outside of their territorial waters, any vessel that they believe with reasonable grounds to be carrying contraband.  The resolution calls upon any potentially suspect vessels to submit consensually to that inspection. If a suspect vessel refuses to submit to inspection, it is required that the flagged state direct that vessel to an appropriate port, for mandatory inspection. Any contraband material that is found following that mandatory inspection is required to be seized and disposed

Adds additional companies, entities, goods and individuals to the list that are subject to an assets freeze under the prior resolution. 

Strengthens monitoring mechanisms more effectively to track violations.

-Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller

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